An Event Planners’ Guide to Sustainability

Creating sustainable practices in the event planning industry is an art that can be both difficult and rewarding. Planning greener meetings isn’t on every event planners mind, and there are reasons for that. Namely, it’s a common myth that it’s impossible to create a brilliant event that is both cost-effective and sustainable. But you really can have it all. Just a few simple actions can have a positive, lasting impact—not just on your event, but on the future, as well.

Following are five actions you can implement today.

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Eliminate Waste

Between websites, evites, social media and mobile apps, there are myriad ways to promote and register for events without the use of paper. And it’s easier than ever to remove paper and plastic from the dining room with reusable tableware. If reusable isn’t an option, go for compostable products and have a good composting plan in place with the venue. If you must print collateral, use recycled paper and print on both sides.

Choose a Sustainable Location

Location matters—a lot. Look for LEED- or Green Key-certified venues and ask your venue what their sustainability practices are. And don’t forget transportation: How your guests get to and from the venue has a big impact on the carbon footprint. Make the event local if possible and give attendees incentives or discounts for taking public transportation or sharing cars.

Conserve Water and Energy

Lighting and power are key to any event, but it’s still possible to save energy. Use solar panels if you can or swap standard bulbs for light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). You’ll reduce energy usage by 90 percent over standard lighting. And of course, thirsty attendees are unhappy attendees. Help them save water with water refill stations instead of bottled water, or offer them water bottles to use at the event (swag, anyone?).

Recycle and Compost

Did you know recycling one aluminum can offsets 90 percent of the energy needed to make a new one? Most venues these days have recycling programs, so be sure to work that into your plan. And talk to the venue about its composting policies; if it doesn’t have one, then work with it to implement one.  Label containers and make sure they are available throughout the venue.

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Inform and Encourage

Work with your attendees to create an actionable sustainability plan for your event by informing them of your sustainability policies and encouraging them to join you. Motivate them with fun contests and

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